The County of Santa Clara
California

Land Use
96800

Public hearing to consider Use Permit, Architecture and Site Approval, and Grading Abatement for one large and one medium Rodeo event on an annual basis. File No.: PLN18-11418. Owner: William Furtado Trust. Applicant: Gilroy Rodeo/Erik Martin. Property Address/Location: 7955 Ferguson Road, Gilroy. Zoning: A-40Ac. Supervisorial District: 1. Assessor’s Parcel No. 841-20-053, -064, -007, and -048.

Information

Department:Department of Planning and DevelopmentSponsors:
Category:Land Use

Multiple Recommendations

Possible action:
a. Accept or reject determination that the project is exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act pursuant to Categorical Exemption Section 15304(e).
b. Grant or deny Use Permit, Architecture and Site Approval, and Grading Abatement.

Body

STAFF RECOMMENDATION

Staff recommends that the Planning Commission:

a.      Accept determination that the project is exempt from Environmental Review under the California Environmental Quality Act per Categorical Exemption Section 15304 (e).

b.     Approve the Use Permit, Architecture and Site Approval, and Grading Approval, subject to Conditions of Approval in Attachment

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The proposed project consists of a Rodeo & Equestrian Event consisting of two annual events: a Large Rodeo with up to 6,500 spectators, 500 participants and 300 volunteers with a maximum duration of five days, and a Medium Rodeo event with 2,500 participants and spectators and 100 volunteers with a maximum duration of three days over a weekend.  Both events would include ancillary activities, such as a dance, amplified music, food, and other similar types of entertainment.  In addition, limited overnight accommodation is proposed for rodeo contestants (in recreational vehicles (“RV”)/trailers) and livestock will be stored in temporary pens during the proposed two events. The first Large Event (“Gilroy Rodeo”) is planned from August 9 to August 11, 2019 with setup and other activities occurring on August 7 and 8, 2019.  The Medium Rodeo is a three-day event scheduled for the fall of 2019.  These two events are proposed to occur annually thereafter within similar timeframes.  The project site previously hosted a large rodeo event (“Gilroy Rodeo”) in August 2018 that received an Entertainment Event permit from the County. 

The project site (Attachment E - Vicinity Map) consists of four parcels with the primary rodeo events proposed to be on APN 841-20-053 (approximately 30 acres) located at 7955 Ferguson Road.  The property to the rear, APN 841-20-064 (approximately 15 acres), does not have independent road access and is proposed to be used for event parking and staging. Additional temporary parking for the two rodeo events is proposed at APNs 841-20-007 (approximately 10 acres) and 841-20-048 (approximately 6 acres) along Dunlap Avenue.  The proposed infrastructure and improvements are shown in Attachment D.

As described further in this report, there are several recorded zoning, building, and grading violations on the property, including the existing earthen berm that is proposed for the rodeo use. In order to address these violations, the owner has been required to enter into a compliance agreement with the County that establishes a timeline for resolving these violations.  The County has required that the property owner enter into this compliance agreement prior to the May 22, 2019.   

Proposed Improvements

To support the annual rodeo use, the applicant is seeking retroactive approval to legalize use of the existing unpermitted 17-row, 1.1-acre Rodeo Arena, constructed as an earthen berm approximately 10 feet in height and composed of 3,522 cubic yards of dirt fill. The Arena provides 5,600 standard seats and 52 Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) compliant seats (5,652 seats total).  The owner will also construct a new permanent driveway to support the use.

The following temporary improvements will be assembled for use during livestock and rodeo events (and will be removed following the events):

Temporary Structures (only installed during the two events)

         10,000 sq. ft. Warmup Area (100 ft. by 100 ft.);

         5,500 sq. ft. Animal Pen (96 ft. by 57 ft.);

         Back Pens and Alleyways for Storage and Use of Livestock (horses and cattle, including up to 100 Rodeo event horses);

         Bucking and Roping Chutes;

         Water Troughs;

         Loading Ramp;

         Announcer Booth above Bucking Chutes;

         Shade Structures over Pens;

         a dance floor;

         a dining tent; and

         an office trailer.

The existing agricultural use of hay farming is proposed to continue.

Parking

Un-paved on-site and off-site parking areas are proposed, adjacent to subject property, which will provide 1,650 spectator parking spaces, 900 volunteer and overflow spaces, 140 participant and large trailer truck spaces, and 42 ADA spaces, for a total of 2,690 parking spaces. These parking spaces will be located in the hayfields while they are fallow in the summer months. The parking area will be delineated after the hay is harvested, and the fields will be planted back to hay at the end of the season, typically December.

Access

Primary Rodeo access for spectators and contestants will originate from 2365 Dunlap Avenue, as shown on the project plans in Attachment D.  Secondary access will be from 7955 Ferguson Road, which will be used primarily for event staff and volunteers.

Sound Amplification

Temporary amplified sound speakers will be installed to serve the seating area around the Arena and the area to the north of the adjacent pond (Pond 1) for dances, awards ceremonies, and other spectator events.

Lighting

The proposed lighting includes 12 permanent pole lights, 35 feet high, around the Main Arena, and six 30-foot high permanent light poles located around the areas where ancillary activities (dining, dancing, etc.) will occur.

An additional four temporary light poles are proposed to be installed in the parking lot areas during the events.  The temporary/mobile parking lot lighting is proposed to be diesel powered through mobile light plants for spectators leaving the event after dark.

Flagpoles

Twenty 35-foot tall temporary lighted event flagpoles are proposed around the Arena during the events. 

Overnight RV Parking

Overnight RVs parked on site during the two events are proposed to be self-contained with no onsite septic or potable water hookups. 

Office Trailer

A temporary mobile office trailer of less than 500 square feet in size will be used in conjunction with events.  It will not have a restroom.

Portable Restrooms

Portable restrooms and hand washing stations are proposed to be used during the events.  No new septic system is proposed.

Water

Potable bottled drinking water will be brought on site and provided at the event.  Onsite water sources from existing agricultural wells will be marked as non-potable and used only for animals and dust control.

Food and Beverage Vendors

Vendors will be responsible for their own licenses and permits and potable water. 

Proposed Events

The Large Rodeo (“Gilroy Rodeo”) includes a range of riding and roping and horsemanship skills events and other guest activities such as a dancing and dining.  The Medium Rodeo will be a local High School student and/or 4-H youth club event conducted within the same Arena but with less demand for parking and support facilities as the Large Rodeo.

The applicant anticipates the following schedule of events for the events:

 

Table 1: Large Rodeo Event (Gilroy Rodeo): Timing, Frequency, and Duration of Activities

 

Event

Attendance Estimate

Hours

Duration

WEDNESDAY

 

 

 

Kick Off Barrel Race-Arena Prep

50

1-2:30pm

1.5hrs

Kick Off Barrel Race-Open Arena/Timed Runs

100

3-5:30pm

2.5hrs

Kick Off Barrel Race-Barrel Race

500

6-10pm

4hrs

THURSDAY

 

 

 

Team Roping - Arena Prep & Cattle

50

3-4:30pm

1.5hrs

Team Roping - Team Roping

500

5-10pm

5hrs

 

 

 

 

Sponsor Dinner

500

7-10pm

3hrs

FRIDAY

 

 

 

Gilroy Junior Rodeo Arena Prep/Livestock

50

6-7:45am

1.75hrs

Gilroy Junior Rodeo

1500

8-1pm

5hrs

 

 

 

 

Gilroy Rodeo CCPRA Slack

1500

2-5:30pm

3.5hrs

 

 

 

 

Bulls & Broncs and Freestyle Bullfighting Prep

500

5:30-6:45pm

1.25hrs

Bulls & Broncs and Freestyle Bullfighting

6500

7-10pm

3hrs

SATURDAY

 

 

 

Gilroy Rodeo Ranch Rodeo Arena Prep/Livestock

50

6-7:45am

1.75hrs

Gilroy Rodeo Ranch Rodeo

1500

8-1pm

5hrs

 

 

 

 

Misc. Entertainment Music, Dance Groups, Etc.

500

1-5pm

4hrs

 

 

 

 

Gilroy Rodeo CCPRA Slack

1500

2-4:30pm

2.5hrs

 

 

 

 

Gilroy Rodeo CCPRA Perf #1

6500

5-8pm

3hrs

Gilroy Rodeo Dance

1500

8-11pm

3hrs

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY

 

 

 

Gilroy Rodeo Charro Events Arena Prep/Livestock

50

6-7:45am

1.75hrs

Gilroy Rodeo Cowboy Church

1000

8-9am

1hr

Gilroy Rodeo Charro Events

3500

9-1pm

4hrs

Misc. Entertainment Music, Dance Groups, Etc.

500

9-1:45pm

4.75hrs

 

 

 

 

Gilroy Rodeo CCPRA Perf #2 Arena Prep/Livestock

1500

1-1:45pm

1.75hrs

Gilroy Rodeo CCPRA Perf #2

6500

2-5pm

3hrs

Gilroy Rodeo Awards

2000

5-6pm

1hr

 

Table 2: Medium Rodeo Event: Timing, Frequency, and Duration of Activities

 

Event

Attendance Estimate

Hours

Duration

FRIDAY

 

 

 

HS Rodeo Prep

50

6-7:45am

1.75hrs

HS Rodeo AM

1000

8-1pm

5hrs

 

 

 

 

HS Rodeo PM

2500

2-10pm

8hrs

SATURDAY

 

 

 

HS Rodeo Arena Prep/Livestock

50

6-7:45am

1.75hrs

HS Rodeo AM

1000

8-1pm

5hrs

 

 

 

 

HS Rodeo PM

2500

2-10pm

8hrs

SUNDAY

 

 

 

HS Rodeo Arena Prep/Livestock

50

6-7:45am

1.75hrs

HS Rodeo AM

1000

9-1pm

4hrs

 

 

 

 

HS Rodeo PM

2500

2-10pm

8hrs

 

 

Project Setting

The project site is located in rural unincorporated agricultural area east of the City of Gilroy, on the corner of Dunlap Avenue and Ferguson Road.  The channelized Jones Creek is to the west of the subject parcels and portions of the property are within the Llagas Creek and Jones Creek flood plain (See Attachment F - Flood Plain Map).  Surrounding land uses consist of residential and agricultural uses; several single-family homes are located directly adjacent to the south and west of the project site on Dunlap Avenue.

 

The subject 61-acre project site (that includes the four parcels) includes approximately 15 acres of prime farmland soils as determined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program, encompassing approximately 25 percent of the total project site area.  Approximately 45 acres of the project site (APNs 841-20-053 and 841-20-064) are currently under a Williamson Act agricultural land preserve contract which will expire in 2020. The site was operated as a dairy use for several years and is currently being used for hay production. There are several recorded zoning, building, and grading violations on the property, including the existing earthen berm that is proposed for the rodeo use.  See Background section for more details. 

 

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Review

The proposed project has been reviewed in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act and staff has determined it to be Categorically Exempt from environmental review under Section 15304 (e) of the CEQA Statutes and Guidelines.  This exemption (Class 4) consists of minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water, and/or vegetation which do not involve removal of healthy, mature, scenic trees except for forestry and agricultural purposes. Examples include but are not limited to:

Minor temporary use of land having negligible or no permanent effects on the environment, including carnivals, sales of Christmas trees, etc.

Staff has determined that the project qualifies for the Class 4 exemption as a temporary Rodeo event.  Although the two Rodeo events - one Large and one Medium - would occur annually, they are temporary in duration (limited to five days and three days in duration, respectively) and ancillary to the agricultural use of the property, which will remain and will not be affected by the rodeo events.  Similar to a seasonal event such as an annual carnival or sales of Christmas trees (examples listed in the Categorical Exemption), the rodeo events would also be a seasonal event and occur during the off-season for hayfield production and will not affect any active agricultural use.

 

The main permanent improvement for the project is the pre-existing 1.1-acre earthen berm proposed to be used for seating for the Rodeo Arena. The Arena will be utilized for the riding, roping, and horsemanship skills events and the earthen berm will provide spectator seating during the proposed annual rodeo events.  Additional proposed permanent site improvements are the 12 light poles, and the new driveway approaches off Ferguson Road and Dunlap Avenue, which have not yet been constructedThese improvements would encompass less than 2 acres of the 60-acre site, which is predominantly used for agriculture, and therefore represent a “negligible” effect on the environment.  The Notice of Exemption from CEQA prepared for this project has been included as Attachment C.

State CEQA Guidelines establish exceptions to the use of Categorical Exemptions. Such exceptions would include any environmental impacts to air or water quality, wildlife, habitat or traffic circulation. The County has determined that none of the exceptions that would disqualify the use of the Class 4 Categorical Exemption exist or apply to this project. In order to determine if any environmental impacts would occur that would prohibit the use of a Categorical Exemption, the Department of Planning and Development required the following technical reports:

a.      Traffic Circulation

b.     Event Parking

c.      Noise Impact Study

d.     Lighting Impact Study

e.      Biological Assessment

These reports, prepared by qualified professionals and reviewed by County staff, indicate that the use of this area for a Rodeo Arena will have no significant environmental impacts.  The recommendations contained in these reports have been included as conditions of approval (See Attachment A). A standard Air Quality condition from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has been added as a condition of approval to manage dust during events. 

Use Permit Findings

All Use Permits are subject to the findings listed in Zoning Ordinance Section 5.65.030, which are included below in underline. An explanation of how this project meets the required findings is presented in italics.

A.   The proposed use conforms with the general plan, with the zoning ordinance, and with all other standards and guidelines applicable to the proposed use that have been adopted by the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors;

General Plan land use Policy R-LU 11, which identifies allowable uses, applies to this project. This General Plan policy is included below, followed by an explanation of how the proposed project complies with the policy.

Agriculture Land Use Designation - Policy R-LU 11

               Allowable land uses shall be limited to:

a.      Agriculture and ancillary uses;

b.     Uses necessary to directly support local agriculture; and

c.      Other uses compatible with agriculture which clearly enhance the long-term viability of local agriculture and agricultural lands.

 

The proposed land use is ancillary to the current agricultural use of the property, which is cultivation of hay.  Approximately 25 percent of the project area consists of Prime Farmland Soils and these soils will continue to be in cultivation for the majority of the year through the winter months and spring, as the majority of the improvements are temporary. The permanent arena area, the only improvement proposed to remain throughout the year, covers 1.1 acres of this 61-acre project site and is not located on the lands designated as Prime Farmlands by the California Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (See Attachment G). As a result, the proposed Rodeo events would not result in the permanent conversion or loss of any prime farmland.

The proposed Rodeo use is supportive of local agriculture because it showcases and celebrates the agricultural history and culture of the local farming and ranching community.  By limiting the duration of Rodeo events to eight days per year during non-growing season, and by proposing primarily temporary rather than permanent improvements, the existing ongoing agricultural use of the property will not be impeded or disrupted.  The proposed use complies with this General Plan policy. 

Lands near creeks or streams are required by General Plan Policies R-RC 37 and 38 to maintain 100-foot buffers from the top of bank from a waterway where the creek or stream has had major alterations, such as is the case of Jones Creek.  While the General Plan Policy does not distinguish between a permanent structure, a permanent parking lot, or a temporary dirt field parking area – the 100-foot buffer to the northwest most parking area is proposed and a conditioned requiring this setback during the two events is included in Attachment A.   

 

B.    The site is adequate for the proposed use, including but not limited to being of adequate size and shape to accommodate all facilities and development features to integrate the use into the surrounding area and to provide any necessary or appropriate buffers between the use and the surrounding area;

The 61-acre site is relatively large and appropriate for this scale of temporary public use.  The Arena is not visible from public road views and there is adequate parking, as proposed, to accommodate an event of this size on-site and on neighboring properties.

The Arena, built without permits, currently crosses property lines.  However, a condition of approval has been added which requires a submittal of a lot line adjustment application prior to grading or building permit issuance. The condition requires the new lot line be proposed in a location such that the Arena and supporting structure, engineered slopes, and retaining walls do not cross a property line, and conform to County setback requirements.  The condition further requires the lot line adjustment be recorded prior to July 31, 2020. 

The twice annual Rodeo events have been evaluated and conditioned to provide adequate parking so that overflow neighborhood street parking will not occur.  A traffic management/staffing plan has been developed to control traffic trips into and out of the project area.

The proposed event lighting has been designed and evaluated so no light spillover (0.0 Candle Foot of illumination) will occur at the nearest property line.  In addition, condition of approval 5 (f) specifies that the lighting shall be utilized only during proposed Medium and Large rodeo events.

The proposed sound systems have been designed to meet County Noise Ordinance requirements and will be monitored and tested to ensure compliance, as required by the project Conditions of Approval.

While there are single family homes surrounding the property, the 61-acre site is large, and the location of the Arena, and other related uses are approximately 1,000 feet away from these residences to ensure maximum buffer.

 

C.    The proposed use, by its nature, scale, intensity or design, will not impair the integrity and character of the zoning district and will not be significantly detrimental to any important and distinctive features of the site's natural setting;

The large Rodeo activity is situated on 61 acres of rural farm/ranch land and the Rodeo Arena, with an engineered berm and seating, at a maximum height of approximately 10 feet, is a compatible structure with the area’s rural character and development composition. 

The other permanent improvements proposed are 12 light poles, 35 feet in high, which are proposed to be used only during the proposed annual Rodeo events.  These light poles conform to the height and setbacks limits specified by the County Zoning Ordinance, and are generally compatible with the character of the zoning district.

 

D.   The proposed use would not be detrimental to public health, safety, or general welfare. In this respect, the Planning Commission shall further find, without limitation, that:

1.     Adequate off-street parking, loading and unloading areas (if applicable), and handicapped access will be provided;

Adequate off-street parking, loading and unloading areas (if applicable), and handicapped access will be provided in that the 2,690 parking spaces provided have been shown in the parking impact study prepared by Keith Higgins dated February 14, 2019 to adequately accommodate an event of this size and scope.  The County has the background experience of the 2018 Rodeo to support this finding.  The County also has the first two years of project monitoring to ensure this parking is adequate and that no spectators or Rodeo staff are parking on public streets. These 2,690 parking spaces have been determined to be adequate in the parking demand report discussed herein.  They were also shown to be adequate at the August 2018 Gilroy Rodeo event.

 

2.     Appropriately designed site access will be provided, including safe and adequate access for fire and emergency vehicles (including secondary access where deemed necessary by the fire marshal);

Appropriately designed site access will be provided, including safe and adequate access for fire and emergency vehicles in that the site access has been evaluated by the applicant’s traffic engineer and the County’s Planning, Roads and Airports, Sheriff and Fire Departments and found to be adequate and acceptable, with conditions of approval.

 

3.     The use will not adversely affect water quality. Adequate wastewater treatment, disposal and sanitation facilities will be provided and will satisfy all applicable local, state and federal requirements;

The use will not adversely affect water quality.  Adequate wastewater treatment will be provided as required and ensured by the Department of Environmental Health. Sanitation facilities will be provided via portable toilets as shown on the project plans and will satisfy all applicable local, state and federal health and potable hand-washing requirements. Due to the proposed duration of the Large Rodeo events, a special operating permit will be obtained from the Department of Environmental Health.

As noted, the property is currently within the Jones and Llagas Creek 100-year flood plain.  There are not habitable structures within this area nor proposed.  The flood plain occurs primarily along the western boundary of APN 841-20-064 and abuts the western edge of the graded Arena. Land Development Engineering staff have reviewed the plans relative to the food plain and have found the annual proposal to be accessible, with conditions.

 

4.     The use will not be detrimental to the adjacent area because of excessive noise, odor, dust or bright lights;

The use will not be detrimental to the adjacent area because of excessive noise, odor, dust or bright lights, in that these issues have been evaluated by the applicant’s design professionals and reviewed by the County’s Planning and Development Department staff and have been found to be adequate and acceptable, with conditions of approval.  These conditions include, among other things:

Noise limitation and event monitoring requirements such as decibel limits/measurement monitoring and the requirement to end all Rodeo events by 10:00 p.m., with the exception of Large Rodeo Saturday and Sunday activities which are permitted to last until 11:00 p.m.

Light limitations and event monitoring requirements such as Candle Foot limits/measurement monitoring and the requirement to end all Rodeo events by 10:00 p.m., with the exception of Large Rodeo Saturday and Sunday activities which are permitted to last until 11:00 p.m.

Site vehicle and Rodeo dust control will be provided via regular non-potable water truck spraying.

 

5.     The use will not substantially worsen traffic congestion affecting the surrounding area;

The use will not substantially worsen traffic congestion affecting the surrounding area.  Public road and onsite circulation have been evaluated by the applicant’s traffic engineer and the County’s Planning and Development, Roads and Airports, Sheriff and Fire Departments and found to be adequate and acceptable, with conditions of approval.

 

6.     Erosion will be adequately controlled; and

Erosion on the site will adequately be controlled in that public road and onsite circulation have been evaluated by the applicant’s traffic engineer and the County’s Planning, Roads and Airports, Sheriff and Fire Departments and found to be adequate and acceptable, with conditions of approval.

 

7.     Adequate storm drainage management exists or will be provided and will comply with all applicable local, state and federal requirements.

Adequate storm drainage exists or will be provided and will comply with all applicable local, state and federal requirements.

 

Supplemental Zoning Ordinance Findings

4.10.320 Rodeos and Equestrian Event Facilities

Per the County Zoning Ordinance, Rodeos & Equestrian Event Facilities are subject to all of the following provisions:

A.   Lot Size. Minimum lot size shall be ten (10) acres.

BProximity to Residential Development. The use shall not be located in the immediate vicinity of residential development. For the purposes of this provision, residential development shall be generally considered to be any substantial grouping of residential lots that are each less than two and one-half acres in area. It shall be within the discretionary authority of the Planning Commission to more precisely define “residential development” and “immediate vicinity” as they may apply to a particular proposal.

Staff finds that the two Rodeo events meet Criteria A because the subject site totals 61 acres in size, and the lot containing the Rodeo activities is approximately 30 acres. 

With respect to Criteria B, while the significant majority of the surrounding parcels are large Agricultural parcels (a map showing the surrounding parcels has been included as Attachment H), there are four residential lots located directly adjacent to the primary Rodeo parcel (APN 841-20-064) that are less than 2.5 acres in size, and there are five other residential parcels just to the south and west of the primary Rodeo parcel also less than 2.5 acres in size. 

While these residential properties could constitute “residential development”, staff does not believe that the proposed rodeo use will be “immediately adjacent” to these houses, as the distance between the rodeo event area and the residences will be over 1,100 feet.  As described in the project description, the proposed rodeo activities will only occur twice a year and for the remainder of the year the property will remain in agricultural use.  To date, County Planning staff has conducted significant public outreach and has received no opposition to the proposed Use Permit from the adjacent neighbors, and both of the adjacent neighbors who provided comment during the Early Public Outreach meeting were supportive of the project.

Due to these circumstances, staff finds that the proposed Rodeo meets the criteria under 4.10.320(B).

 

§ 2.20.050 A Districts: Agricultural Preservation Criteria

The proposed project site is designated A-40Ac, representing Exclusive Agriculture, with a forty-acre combining district.  The intent of Exclusive Agriculture zoning is to preserve and encourage the long-term viability of agriculture and agricultural lands.   The proposed Rodeo and Equestrian Event uses are allowed in the A-40Ac Zoning District, provided a Use Permit with Architecture and Site Approval (“ASA”) is obtained for a rodeo, pursuant to compliance with the Agricultural Preservation Criteria in Section 2.20.050.

New Uses. Any newly proposed use in an A district must be found to be in compliance with all of the following general criteria

1.     The use must be compatible with and not substantially interfere with the continuation of any on- or off-site agricultural operation.

2.     The use should not be of a sensitive nature that would itself be negatively impacted by any existing or future on-site or off-site agricultural use.

3.     The use will not require public urban services or infrastructure, or establishment of special districts or similar entities.

4.     The use should be consistent with the rural image of the agricultural area.

5.     Any new non-agricultural use should be sited to avoid taking the most viable agricultural lands out of active agricultural production.

6.     Any new use should not significantly inhibit the future development of adjacent parcels consistent with general plan land use designations of nearby cities.

7.     The use must clearly enhance the long-term viability of local agriculture and agricultural lands.

As discussed herein, staff finds that the proposed Large and Medium Rodeo events, which will each be held no more than once per year, meet this criterion. The proposed Rodeo use would not interfere with on-site agricultural use, as it is temporary and limited to several days a year. The timing of the use would not affect the growing of hay on site. The permanent improvements primarily are limited to the 1.1-acre Arena, which is not located in prime farmland areas.

The use is an assembly event use that would occur when there are no agricultural activities on site. 

The use is consistent with the rural image of the agricultural area.

The site is not located near a city boundary.

The Rodeo use for up to two annual events clearly enhances the long-term viability of local agriculture as it promotes agricultural tourism.

 

Architecture and Site Approval Findings

All Architecture and Site Approvals are subject to the findings per Zoning Ordinance Section 5.40.040 included below in underline. An explanation on how this project meets the required findings is presented in italics.

A.   Adequate traffic safety, on-site circulation, parking and loading areas, and insignificant effect of the development on traffic movement in the area;

Traffic and parking reports were prepared by qualified professionals and evaluated by Planning and Development, Roads and Airports, Sheriff, and Fire Department staff.  Adequate parking has been determined to be available, and supported by the 2018 Rodeo, and public street and on-site traffic management is conditioned to be coordinated by Roads and Airports, Sheriff and event staff;

As shown on the project plans and described herein, and included as a requirement of Use Permit approval, parking lots are shown to provide 1,650 spectator parking, 900 volunteer and overflow parking, 140 participant and large trailer truck parking, and

42 ADA parking spaces, for a total of 2,690 parking spaces.  These parking spaces will be in the hayfields while they are fallow.  The parking has been determined to be adequate by the applicant’s traffic engineer and as accepted by Planning and Development staff.  The 2018 Rodeo event also represented that the parking was adequate, and the site parking will be monitored and evaluated over the next two-year event cycle; and 

Per conditions of approval, traffic safety and on-site circulation will be monitored by Sheriff and event staff, public streets will be posted with directional and informational signs, and interior circulation will also be posted with directional and informational signs; and

The two driveway approaches will be at Dunlap Avenue and Ferguson Road.  Animal loading and preparation will occur west of the Arena on the warm-up area adjacent to the northwest contestant parking lot.

 

B.    Appearance of proposed site development and structures, including signs, will not be detrimental to the character of the surrounding neighborhood or zoning district;

The Rodeo event structures are predominantly temporary and consistent with the agricultural and rural composition of the surrounding area.  The permanent Arena structure is set back over 1,000 feet from Ferguson Road and approximately 800 feet from Dunlap Avenue, and is further screened from public view by existing residential and farm accessory buildings situated between the public roads and the Arena.  It is also consistent with the agricultural and rural composition of the surrounding area.  While constructed without approval or permits, the Arena is physically consistent with the legal agricultural-exempt grading that occurred on the site to build retention ponds and similar farmland improvements. 

 

C.    Appearance and continued maintenance of proposed landscaping will not be detrimental to the character of the surrounding neighborhood or zoning district; proposed development;

Existing landscaping will not be removed or otherwise affected by this twice annual temporary Rodeo use. No new landscaping is proposed or required as a component of the project, due to the temporary nature of the use for no more than 8 days of a year.

 

D.   No adverse effect of the development on flood control, storm drainage, and surface water drainage;

The property is currently within the Jones and Llagas Creek 100-year flood plain.  There are no habitable structures within this area nor proposed.  The flood plain primarily occurs on the along the western boundary of APN 841-20-064 and abuts the western edge of the graded Arena.

 

E.    Adequate existing and proposed fire protection improvements to serve the development;

The Santa Clara County Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) has reviewed the plans and visited the project site and determined that the existing fire protection improvements are able to serve both the permanent development and the temporary Rodeo structures and events. The FMO has conditioned the project to ensure that adequate access will be maintained over the life of the permit, by requiring submittal of an evaluation.

 

F.     No significant increase in noise levels;

The event sound system has been evaluated by a qualified acoustic professional who found that with event requirements and monitoring the Rodeo will comply with County General Plan and Zoning Ordinance noise regulations.  Noise limitation and event monitoring requirements such as decibel limits/measurement monitoring and the requirement to end all Rodeo events by 10:00 p.m., with the exception of Large Rodeo Saturday and Sunday activities which are permitted to last until 11:00 p.m.;

 

G.   Conformance with zoning standards. Standards applicable to non-residential uses may be varied by the ASA committee to promote excellence of development provided that the deviation from standards will better accomplish the purposes of this chapter;

The zoning for the subject property sites is Agriculture (A-40Ac) which acknowledges and supports the agricultural significance of this region of the county.  Agricultural uses and single-family homes are permitted by right.  Other uses, such as a Rodeo, are conditionally allowed via a Use Permit.  In this case, the twice-annual Rodeo has been found to financially and culturally support the underlying agricultural use of the property.

The only permanent improvement, the graded earthen berm Arena with stadium seating, is constructed to be compatible with the existing graded retention ponds and general land uses and character of the surrounding area.

Grading in the County is required to meet a five-foot setback from any property line, as measured to the toe, or base, of the graded area.  The permanent Arena structure does not meet a five-foot setback, and in fact crosses the west property line of the primary Rodeo property (APN 841-20-053).  A condition of approval is included that requires a Lot Line Adjustment be performed to bring the Arena entirely onto APN 841-21-053.  The proposed temporary structures, as well as the permanent lighting structures meet setback requirements

 

H.   Conformance with the general plan and any applicable specific plan;

The temporary event structures and the permanent Arena structure comply with applicable General Plan Land Use policies and requirements as explained above under Use Permit Finding A related to General Plan conformance. The project is not located in any Specific Plan area.

 

I.       Substantial conformance with the adopted Guidelines for Architecture and Site Approval and other applicable guidelines adopted by the County, or by the appropriate city for land within the city's urban service area.

The proposal, as conditioned, would comply with all County of Santa Clara Architecture and Site Approval design guidelines.

 

Grading Approval/Abatement

All Grading Approvals are subject to the findings per County Grading Ordinance Section C12-433 included below in underline. The Grading findings per Section C12-433 are listed below. Facts supporting each finding are shown in italics.

A.   The amount, design, location, and the nature of any proposed grading is necessary to establish or maintain a use presently permitted by law on the property.

This grading approval consideration is for Grading Abatement/Approval. The constructed earthen berm Arena was built without approval or permits.  The Arena is structurally composed of 3,522 cubic yards of dirt fill with no cut soil.  It rises approximately 8.5 feet above what was existing grade, but it abuts an existing retention pond berm and is visually compatible with existing site improvements  A preliminary geotechnical letter finds the graded berm Arena stable for public use and a detailed geotechnical evaluation is conditioned to be prepared and evaluated prior to issuance of a Grading Permit.

A Rodeo and equestrian event facility is a conditionally allowed use in the A-40Ac Zoning District and the 4:1 graded earthen Main Arena provides seating for an event center for the Rodeo and is gradually graded and is visually consistent with the grading-exempt uses on the subject property and surrounding properties, such as agricultural retention ponds.

 

B.    The grading will not endanger public and/or private property, endanger public health and safety, will not result in excessive deposition of debris or soil sediments on any public right of way, or impair any spring or existing watercourse.

 

This grading approval consideration is for Grading Abatement/Approval.  The constructed and existing Arena structure was built without approval or permits. However, it has been graded to be compatible with both the farm/ranch agricultural use of the property and the surrounding area.  A preliminary geotechnical letter finds the earthen berm Arena stable for public use and a detailed geotechnical evaluation will be prepared and evaluated in order to issue a Grading Permit. Further, the earthen berm is located a considerable distance from both Ferguson Road and Jones Creek and will not impair any public right-of-way or watercourse.

 

C.    Grading will minimize impacts to the natural landscape, scenic, biological and aquatic resources, and minimize erosion impacts.

The earthen berm Arena structure, which is located in close proximity to an existing stock pond, has been evaluated by a licensed biologist and has been determined to not cause any significant impacts to the natural landscape, scenic, biological or aquatic resources, or sensitive habitat as defined in the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan. The permit has further been evaluated by Land Development Engineering staff and has been recommended for approval.

 

D.   For grading associated with a new building or development site, the subject site shall be one that minimizes grading in comparison with other available development sites, taking into consideration other development constraints and regulations applicable to the project.

The earthen berm constitutes a small area of the 61-acre Rodeo site and is not visible from public roads.  The grading included 3,500 cu yds. of fill with no cut material.  The fill was provided by otherwise agricultural exempt earth movement. The graded Arena is compatible with the surrounding agricultural retention ponds and the use of properties within the greater area. 

 

E.    Grading and associated improvements will conform with the natural terrain and existing topography of the site as much as possible and should not create a significant visual scar.

The earthen berm is graded to be compatible with both the farm/ranch agricultural use of the property and the surrounding area.  The earthen berm abuts an existing retention pond berm and is visually compatible with existing site agricultural-use improvements, such as the two legally constructed retention ponds.   Due its location and height, the earthen berm Arena has not created a significant visual scar.

 

F.     Grading conforms with any applicable general plan or specific plan policies;

The earthen berm Arena area conforms to all County General Plan policies and guidelines and other applicable guidelines adopted by the County.

 

Williamson Act Agricultural Land Protection

APNs 841-20-053 and 841-20-064 are currently within a Williamson Act agricultural land preserve contract that will expire in 2020.  The subject property has approximately 15 acres of prime farmland soils as determined by the USGS Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program.  This is approximately 25 percent of the total project site area.  The applicant has provided information to the County’s Williamson Act and Agricultural Preservation staff regarding the proposed temporary Rodeo events and their effect on this ranch property.

The Rodeo has been determined by County staff to be an ancillary and supporting agricultural use consistent with the terms of the Williamson Act contract and the properties’ Agricultural land use designation. The County has determined that the proposed use is Compatible with the agricultural use on site. A Williamson Act Compatible Use Determination Letter has been issued by the County. (Attachment I)

 

BACKGROUND

Project History

A one-time Rodeo special event permit was issued to hold a Large Rodeo in August 2018.  This Use Permit application is required to allow this Large Rodeo and an additional Medium Rodeo to occur annually in perpetuity, unless physical conditions change or adopted conditions of approval are not being met. Architecture and Site and Grading Approval are necessary to allow the constructed Arena to remain and be utilized for Rodeo events.

A pre-application for the proposal was submitted to the County in 2018 and comprehensively reviewed by all responsible County Departments and Agencies. A formal application was then submitted on February 26, 2019.  The application was re-evaluated by County staff and scheduled for an April 28, 2019 public outreach meeting in Gilroy.  The meeting was attended by Rodeo supporters and nearby residents with project-specific questions.  No written correspondence has been submitted to date.

Public notices of the April 29, 2019 early public outreach meeting and of the Planning Commission public hearing were distributed to property owners within a 1,000-foot radius of the project site.  Those who have requested to be notified were also included.

 

Existing Violations

The site has received two Notices of Violation from the County related to zoning, building, and grading violations associated with multiple existing dwellings and other structures, as well as the graded earthen berm. The applicant is working with the County to enter into a Compliance Agreement to resolve these violations.